Kerry Group has said it is confident of delivering its previously guided full year earnings growth as the company saw a good start to the year.

In an interim management statement, the global ingredients and flavours and consumer foods group said that market conditions in the UK and Irish consumer foods sectors have broadly stabilised. 

Kerry said the global retail food and beverage markets continue to be challenged by consumer trends towards more convenient shopping formats.

But it added that demand for innovation in health and wellness and nutritional offerings provided it with "solid opportunities" for growth.

The company said that overall group business volumes increased by 2.5%, slightly ahead of the previous quarter. It said that net pricing fell by 2.4% due to reduced raw material costs. 

Reported revenues moved 4.5% higher compared to the same quarter last year.

This was due to business volume growth, lower pricing and a positive translation impact due to what Kerry called "significant currency tailwinds".

Business volumes in Kerry's Ingredients and Flavours business increased by 2.9% in the three month period, while pricing was 2.3% lower compared to the first quarter of 2014. 

In its Consumer Foods division, business volumes rose by 1.4% while pricing decreased by 2.6%. It noted that the relaunch of its Denny Gold Metal sausage brand continues to do well, while the Charleville cheese brand also saw good growth in the quarter.

Cheestrings continued to broaden its market reach in mainland European markets, while the Yollies children's yoghurt snack continues to achieve "encouraging market penetration", the company said in its trading update.

Kerry said its net debt at the end of March was €1.4 billion and the increase since the end of last year was due to currency factors, capital expenditure and investment in working capital.